Workforce development expands in North Alabama with Madison County Commission’s help

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Alabama Department of Commerce is trying to restructure their workforce investment boards, expanding them from just three, to seven across the state. The Madison County Commission discussed the topic at Wednesday's meeting.

Under the current structure, 65 Alabama counties share just one board. The Alabama Department of Commerce wants to change that.

"This will allow each region to have its own board and to be able to make policy and assess its workforce needs, based on their needs," said Melody Whitten. Whitten is a regional workforce council liaison with the department of commerce.

With the changes, North Alabama will have its own board making decisions for the specific needs in the Tennessee Valley.This comes on the heels of the growing job market in Huntsville, thanks to recent announcements.

"Obviously as you grow jobs the first question is what types of jobs are those companies going to hire, and do we have the workforce to provide them with the workforce that they need?" said Whitten.

Whitten is responsible for the North Alabama region. "We're hearing everything from the need for nurses, to welders, to CDL drivers. So the need is diverse across the region," she explained.

One of their goals is to see how well the workforce here is prepared.

"Are there training programs in place? Do we have a pipeline of training programs in the K-12 system, community college system, or the four-year university system to meet the needs of those workers?" said Whitten.

And if not, how do they implement them? That's what they hope to assess. On Wednesday, the Madison County Commission agreed to apply to be a local workforce development area designation, which is what would help North Alabama become one of those seven boards.